What happens when a Guatemalan woman, a British gentleman, and a dreadlocked American stop in front of a restaurant? The carabinieri (fashionably dressed police people) are going to ask who they’re waiting for. Thanks to Italian lessons, I was able to explain we were not waiting for our dealer but simply trying to find food. Evidently our little, hungry group looked very suspicious.
Last week I went to Rome with two very good friends, Natalia and Atif, where we had a bunch of crazy adventures. I took the above photo on the bridge that crosses the Tiber to Castel Sant’Angelo. We also visited the Trevi Fountain (which has just reopened after renovation), the Colosseum, and the Palatine Hill.
I love the Palatine Hill for multiple reasons. Not only is it an incredibly green and peaceful location with a great panorama of the Roman Forum, but you really feel as if you are stepping back in time. You can visit remnants of the the imperial palace, the homes of Caesar Augustus and his wife Livia, the royal stadium, and supporting structures of the Aqua Claudia (an aqueduct started by Caligula and finished by Claudius).
This past weekend was Passover and Monday was Liberation Day. This is a coincidental combination of a centuries old Jewish holiday and the fall of a government that allowed 8,500 Jews to be deported out of Italy and exterminated in nazi concentration camps. With this in mind, it felt appropriate to not only visit archaeological sites but to also visit the old Jewish ghetto in Rome.
The placard below hangs on the wall of a historic Jewish school.
“Hear oh people! See my pain. My young women and my young men have been deported” – Lamentations 1:18
“In perpetual memory of the one hundred and twelve students of this school killed in Nazi extermination camps.”
I think little needs to be said to encourage our continued reflection and contemplation of the past. Though, I did feel that it was especially appropriate this weekend.
To change themes completely. . .
That evening Natalia, Atif, and I walked for two and a half hours for Mexican food. As we walked through some of Rome’s rougher neighborhoods I told Natalia that, “If we die, I’m telling your mother it’s your fault”. The next day, back home in Perugia, I sat with my friends in their car listening to the Backstreet Boys.
I don’t know if I’ve ever had a more Italian experience. One day I’m in the capital appreciating history, both ancient and modern. The next day I’m wondering why my Italian friends have such a durable fascination with boy bands. Italy, never change.